Math IS Literacy- Now What?

September 9, 2015


alixA while ago, I argued that it IS possible to address literacy in math classes while addressing math content, and that:

“whenever you’re engaging with students in meaningful work involving mathematical symbols and language- work that helps them understand concepts more deeply- you’re supporting students’ math literacy.”

(Original post available here or on the Literacy in Learning Exchange blog here.) I didn’t address what, specifically, you might do to help students develop math literacy.  I have some thoughts, but I’d also really like to hear from math facilitators on this topic- since literacy coaches really need to learn from math facilitators about their content area!

Define “reading” and “writing” broadly.  Math is a new language- and a new symbolic system as well.  Reading and writing in math includes shapes, diagrams, graphs, equations, lines, and a bazillion symbols that have different meanings outside of math.  Of course, mathematicians and math students also read words, e.g. in proofs, graphs, and word problems. Students need to learn to read and write in all these different ways in order to be successful in math, so “literacy in math” should include them all.

Read New Tech Network Literacy Coach Horton’s full blog.

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